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'It blows away all the other elections' | St. Louis-area election officials already seeing high turnout

Proudly wearing their stickers, Rev. B.T. Rice and Trina Rice say they usually vote before Election Day, and they're not surprised to see more do voters do the same

ST. PETERS, Mo. — When the St. Charles County Election headquarters closed promptly at 5 p.m. Wednesday, there were still people pulling into the parking lot to cast their votes. Organizers say every morning when they open the doors at 8 a.m. there's a line waiting. 

They expect the high attendance to last all the way up until Election Day, as some experts predict record turnout.

"It blows away all the other elections," Kurt Bahr said of this year's participation.

Bahr said the county has received 25,000 requests for mail-in ballots with another week before the request deadline. They've also logged 13,000 in-person absentee voters and 3,000 early vote-by-mail ballots.

With such an emphasis on these other methods, Bahr says they've had to change the way they do things to keep with demand, hiring a new vendor to mail ballots to people who request them.

"This is a very contentious race that's going on and [there's] a lot of division in our communities," Rev. B.T. Rice said as he left the ballot box.

Proudly wearing their stickers and a VOTE mask, Rice and his wife, Trina Rice, said they usually vote before Election Day, and they did expect to see more people doing the same.

"I'm not surprised at all that there are more people voting," Rev. Rice said. "More people want to have their voices heard."

Turnout in St. Louis County -- the state's largest voting jurisdiction -- is increasing day-to-day.

"The turnout has been really relatively heavy. We have been consistently from day one having about 1,000 people a day, and now in the past several days, we've had closer to 1,500 people a day in the office." Eric Fey, Democratic Director of Elections for St. Louis County, said.

Fey said they also require additional hands.

"What it turns into is essentially two elections being run simultaneously," Fey said, adding "We still need the same amount of people to run the polling places on election day, plus a pretty significant increase in the amount of people we need to process all these absentee and mail-in ballots."

Back in St. Charles County, Bahr hopes having so many people turn out early will keep Election Day busy -- but not crowded.

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